Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Dr Rob on TV (again)

BBC2 is preparing to launch a new TV series called The Restaurant, which will run for eight weeks from Wednesday 29th August 2007. In the new show, which will run twice a week on Wednesdays and Thursdays, Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc puts nine couples through their paces to choose one couple who will win the opportunity to open a restaurant with his personal backing and £100,000 of investment. One couple will get eliminated each week.

On Thursday evenings after the show, BBC3 will be running a show tentatively called 'The Restaurant: You're Fried' (a pun on 'Fired', I think) featuring the eliminated couple. And I'll be the providing some psychological insight into their personalities - so look out for me then.

Oh, by the way, I've been working with a web designer to launch a new website with some background information about me. There are only two pages there - and I plan to use it to help TV producers understand a bit about me when they're thinking about casting a TV psychologist (i.e. someone like me!). I'm not aiming it at people looking for career and business advice (which is what I try to do through this blog), but the site is up and running at - have a look and let me know what you think!

The pain of having to network at work

Not everyone likes to network. But that doesn't mean that it is not darned important.
Someone recently asked me for advice on their situation:

I've never been the world's most social person but I've just joined a new company in a line manager role where social networking seems almost as important as the job itself. I feel really uncomfortable in this environment. Golf has never interested, so that already puts me at a handicap, while hanging out at the local pub for a pint just isn't my idea of fun either. I'd much rather get back to the wife and kids and it's a long drive home. However, I guess that I'm going to need some level of social involvement and to play the game or I won't be seen a team player. Any advice appreciated.

To cut a long story short (and at the risk of sounding simplistic), I advised him that he has three broad choices:
  1. Get involved in networking if you want to succeed. Realise that many important workplace decisions are made as much on the basis of how much other people like you as how much they rate you.
  2. Quit and find a company that is more in tune with your personal values. If you hate having to socialise with people at work, then make it your medium-term goal to find an organisation where you don't have to force yourself to socialise with people you don't want to socialise with.
  3. Avoid the social networking and let your career stagnate. But that's not much of a third choice really, is it?

To read my full response, click through to the Management Issues website.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The voice of reason

My publisher Cyan/Marshall Cavendish asked me to record a podcast a few weeks ago, which has just been put onto itunes.

The podcast is a 20-minute discussion in which the interviewer asks me to provide various tips on the topics of office politics, job hunting, entrepreneurship, and networking. So if any of those topics interest you then you might like to download the podcast.

Now I'm not a terribly computer savvy person, but I believe you just tap in the words 'cyan marshall cavendish' into the search box of itunes and it should come up with the podcast's location. Even if you don't have itunes, you can download it for free. There's also a bunch of other podcasts by other authors in the Cyan/Marshall Cavendish stable too - so you can learn about other topics ranging from cold calling customers to giving great presentations.

I hope you get a chance to download my podcast - it'll be a chance for you to hear my thoughts rather than read about them for a change!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Dealing with difficult people

We often hear people talking about their "difficult colleagues" or "difficult customers". However, here's a tip for learning to deal with difficult people.

For starters, stop referring to them as difficult people - because that makes it sound like a personality fault of theirs. Refer instead to the precise behaviours that make them difficult.

For example, rather than saying "she's too talkative" (an adjective which implies something about her personality) say instead: "she is talking too much" (which describes a behaviour that you can therefore tackle). Or if someone is not telling you the whole truth, avoid saying "he's a liar" - instead say: "he is not telling me the whole truth".

To sum up, use behaviour words rather than personality words. Then when you decide to ask the advice of other colleagues or even decide to speak to the person who is causing you difficulty, you can tackle their behaviour (which can be changed) rather than their personality (which can't be changed).